Freedom of religion, a constitutional right in France, is not a right extended to Muslim women who wear a burqa. Yesterday France rejected a Muslim women's bid to become a citizen because she wears a burqa.
French authorities claim that the burqa is incompatible with the notion of Frenchness and contradicts the national value that seeks equality of the sexes.
Faiza M (32), as she is known publicly, was born in Morocco until she married a French national and moved to France in 2000. She has three children who were all born in France.
Faiza M. speaks French but because she told authorities that she lives in "total submission" to her husband it was deemed that this demonstrated "insufficient assimilation" into French life.
Faiza M. appealed the ruling saying that she lived in harmony with French values but the Council of State upheld the ruling.
The Council of State heard legal evidence that decribed Faiza M's life as under the control of her husband and other male relatives.
The thinking in this ruling strongly suggests that France has just ruled that patriarchy and French citizenship is incompatible.
Should we now expect that Christian or Jewish women, for example, who are married to domineering French men are barred from citizenship, naturalized, or other?
And what will the test be to determine insufficient integration?
This case illustrates rising intolerance toward Muslims in France and elsewhere in Europe (see proposed minaret ban in Switzerland).
It is also hardly ironic that the government seeks to punish a Muslim woman for not being French enough to live with her French husband and children.
France is a decidedly patriachal society that can hardly claim that women enjoy equal status with men as a general rule. Faiza M. was rejected because she is a Muslim woman who wears a burqa in a nation who mostly want Muslims to leave.
This case is about being anti-Islam and anti-Muslim. And this virulent bigotry is being carried out on the body of a Muslim woman.
So much for freedom, freedom of religion, fraternity, justice, and equality under the law.